Mental Health, Mindset

How do you break out of negative thinking?

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When you are in the midst of a cycle of negativity, it often feels like you are going to stay there forever.

The good news is, you don’t have to stay there, and you certainly don’t have to “wait it out” either.

You actually have power over your thoughts and your current state of mind. Way more than you think. No matter what you think, you have the power to change your thoughts and the way you are experiencing things at the moment.  

But how exactly do you break out of a negative cycle on your own?

1. Change your posture

When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, your body feels it too. And it shows.

Take a moment to notice your posture right now as you are wallowing in your negativity. Are you hunching? Do you have a frown on your face, with your head low and chin down?

Well, first things first: stand up straight. Chin up. Pull your shoulders back. Relax your facial expression. Take a deep breath. Stand (or sit) tall. Like a queen. Or a king. Or a soldier.

Seriously.

It’s incredibly hard to have defeatist thoughts when you are standing tall like a conqueror. Can you see it?

Negative thinking_posture
Image from Canva

2. Go eat something healthy

Did you skip breakfast today? What’s the last thing you ate? Was it a bag of crackers while scrolling on your social media?

If you eat shitty food, you will feel shitty. And if you eat irregularly, you will feel shitty.

It doesn’t matter if you think you are “not hungry”, or “are not a breakfast person”… your body needs fuel. Good quality fuel.

And when it’s lacking fuel, not only does your body feel shitty but your mind feels shitty as well. And it reflects on the quality of your thoughts.

So if you want to break out of that negative cycle you are currently in, go nourish your body preferably with healthy, whole foods.

And if you are feeling lazy (or negative), just have a snack.

I said HEALTHY!

Baby carrots, houmous, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, some canned tuna, or mackerel.

And while you are preparing your food….

3. Listen to something “positive”.

You break a cycle of negative thoughts by actively putting new thoughts in your mind.

You can do it on your own (through positive affirmations or visualization for example), or you can find some help in the form of external input: audio recordings, podcasts, masterclasses, YouTube videos, audiobooks, etc.

I know, since you are feeling sooo shitty and negative right now, you probably don’t feel like listening to that. You probably hate everything right now, don’t you?

Well, that’s why “positive” audios are a good option: they are so low involvement, and you can listen to them while doing something else. Like preparing the food you need to feel better.

By positive I mean something that will actually make your life and your mind better. This means, no Netflix.

Here are a few recommendations.

If you are:

  • feeling demotivated, try listening to Jim Rohn or Les Brown.
  • completely lost, in search of meaning and purpose, try Jordan Peterson.
  • battling with addiction, listen to Erica Spiegelman’s book, Rewired.
  • If you want to know more about how to conquer your mind, try Joe Dispenza.

4. Open your curtains, turn on the lights, and clean up your living space

If you are feeling gloomy or negative, you are probably sitting in your apartment, in the dark, curtains closed. Your external environment is probably a reflection of how negative you are feeling inside. And vice versa.

Want to change how you feel inside? Change the outside.

Let the light in, literally. It will reflect on your soul.

Clean up the mess in your living space: clutter in your house creates clutter in your mind.

Seriously, take 15 minutes to clean up that mess you are in. And later, when you have more time and energy, start getting rid of all the useless crap you are probably accumulating.

Related post: All that stuff you own is ruining your life. Here’s how.

5. Go take a shower, and make yourself look “nice”

Again, are feeling negative and crappy inside? Take a look at the way you are presenting yourself right now? Does it show?

Did you brush your teeth this morning? Shower? Washed your hair?

If you haven’t, go do it now.

And while you are at it, put on a nice scent: a nice body oil or body lotion.

negative thinking_negativity cycle
Image from Canva

6. Face the monster: identify the negative thoughts you are having, and write them down

Take a piece of paper and write it down:

What are the negative things you are thinking about right now? Be precise.

List them all with no judgment. Just write down all the negative thoughts, feelings, and words that are spiraling in your mind right now.

Then confront these negative beliefs with these 4 questions. Byron Katie’s “4 questions” are a powerful tool for challenging negative thinking in all circumstances:

  • Is it true?
  • Do I absolutely know it’s true?
  • How do I react when I believe that thought?
  • Who would I be without that thought?

Related post: How to start journaling when you think you can’t.

7. Now, stop engaging with your negative thoughts

Now that you have faced and challenged the negative beliefs you are carrying around all day long, it’s time to set boundaries.

Just because you are having a negative thought does not mean you have to engage with that thought every time it comes.

This means: negative thoughts and feelings will come. But when they do, you can either

1) notice them, thank them for their visit, and then let them go OR

2) you can give them importance, sit with them, nurture them, repeat them over and over in your head, and give them the power to throw you off track every time they come.

Which one is the best way to break out of your negativity cycles?

Let me give you a hint: it’s number 1.

8. Do one thing that serves a future, better you

This implies that you have identified what you really want in life and what success looks like to you.

If you haven’t done that yet, now is a good time to start asking yourself those questions.

If you have, then now is a good time to do just one small thing that will get you closer to your goal:

  • Go for a 15-minute run?
  • Write the first paragraph of a business proposal?
  • Create your profile on Fiverr so you can start your freelance career?
  • Create one social media post for your blog?
  • Outline the first video for your YouTube channel?

Pick one thing, block 15 minutes with no interruptions, and take action.

The key to breaking a negative cycle is ACTION.

Negative thinking is the result of inaction. So, act. And better yet, act by doing something that will serve you and improve your life.

9. Repeat that every day.

Here’s the thing. You will always be susceptible to negative thought patterns.

It’s part of life. You cannot be 1 000% sunshine and rainbows every single day of your life.

Even Tony Robbins who seems to be pumped up and hyped up 24/7 uses techniques to consciously put himself in that positive state every day.

That’s why, another key to breaking your cycle of negativity is remembering that you will always have to be mindful of your thoughts, and your best bet is to constantly develop the skills to influence yourself and change your thoughts.

Related post: Self-management is like a superpower. And it’s totally worth it!

10. Now, get off your butt and actually do the things you just read

If you are to ever break that cycle of negativity, you need to stop reading things, are start doing them. This includes this blog post.

Now that you’ve read it, close your laptop or your phone and go do #1-2 and 3, on the list and let me know how it worked out for you.

Save for later!

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About Steph

I am a personal growth/self-management enthusiast. I was able to completely transform my life using everything I share here. I hope this blog helps you transform yours as well.
View all posts by Steph →

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